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      Monday, November 03, 2003

01:28 PM - 11/03/2003

The topic: The fires…..


Monday, November 3, 2003  Because Brian dorked around with his brother on Saturday, October 25, we didn’t get out to breakfast.  We’d not gone to our normal Saturday morning breakfast since before my birthday.  So, we decided to go on Sunday (October 26) morning.  We got up early, Brian showered and I just got dressed, having showered Saturday evening.  I got the computers up and running, got the cats and the dog fed and I was in the office turning off the monitor when there was a commotion at the front door.  It was odd because it was early, around 6:30. 

Now, I’d been outside and I’d mentioned how weird it looked.  We knew there were fires somewhere, but we had no idea of what was to come.  We did know that it was pretty bad wherever they were.  I heard voices in the entry way (the weather was mild, the front door was open the screen door was closed).  I went to see what was going on.  It was our petsitter, Becky and her daughter.  Becky was obviously agitated.  It seems the fires were over the hill by her house.  They had to evacuate. The ASPCA had taken her horse earlier, she took the dogs to a kennel where she’s well known, but she didn’t know where to take her cats.  Could we take them?  Yes, we could.  She left to get the cats, leaving Katelynn behind.  She was upset because she knew that she wouldn’t be able to get all of the cats, two were outside cats and she had no idea where they were.  Same with their bunny.

Click on the images to see larger versions.  Use your browser’s back button to come back to this page. I had to resize them because the page was loading too slowly for some.





I asked Katelynn how many cats did they have and she said “thirteen, I think”.  Thirteen cats!  Lordy, this is going to be fun.  Brian said something about where would we put them?  The only closed room here is the exercise room and that just wasn’t going to work.  No way to put them out in the shop because there are way too many hiding places.  I don’t like our cats going out there, for heaven’s sake.  We figured we’d just let them out into the general population, with our cats, and deal with it.

While Becky was gone collecting cats, I went outside and took some pictures.


This is a panoramic image of the hill on the other side of the valley taken Sunday morning

While we waited for Becky to get back with the cats, I gave Katelynn some puzzles to play with.  But she kept asking if we could play Mousetrap.  I kept wondering if we could still go to breakfast when the cats were delivered.  *sigh*  I’m so food oriented.  Of course we’d not be able to go.  How could I even consider leaving?  It was apparent my brain wasn’t functioning on all cylinders.

Anyway, Becky showed up with three carriers and her son.  One fairly large carrier and two smaller ones.  (There were only seven cats…whew!) I had her set them on the floor in the living room and she opened them up.  I told her to just let the cats take it at their own speed.  She told me their names and a little bit about each one.  Then she told me she’d call me when she could and she gathered up her kids (who didn’t want to leave, her son especially wanted to stay here with his cats) and she left.  It was quiet.  I watched the cats with some trepidation.  Our cats had scattered.  Some were hiding in the garage, others had hightailed it out back. 

Sunday…Brian found this piece of ash in the yard.  Can I tell you how very glad I was that all of the homes around here have gotten rid of their wood shake roofs and gone to asphalt?


And now, I’ll introduce the evacuees.  Becky saved the lives of all of them, either by taking them home from the vet’s office or adopting them from the shelter.  There’s a very high chance that I don’t have the complete story because everything was so hectic that morning.

This is Sagwa, an Indian name.  Sagwa had two undescended testicles.  Becky said that Sagwa wasn’t very friendly.  Sagwa proved her wrong.  He was very friendly, spending much time on Brian’s lap.


Roxy was rescued from the shelter.  She’s a very nice cat, but was slated for euthanasia because she’d worn out her welcome at the shelter.  She had been there for five months.

Potter stole my heart.  He had trauma to one of his back legs and it had to be removed.  From the looks of his fur, it hadn’t been all that long since the surgery.  He has the neatest purrsonality.  He would hiss and growl at you, you pick him up, he purrs like crazy, squirming to get his head rubbed (I paid special attention to the scritches behind the ear on the side that his leg was gone).  You’d set him down and he’d be chasing you again, growling and hissing and wanting so badly to be picked up and loved.  Like I said, he stole my heart.

This is Possom, a pretty little dilute calico.  She’s a mama’s girl, according to Becky.  She was really affectionate.  Quiet, though.

This is Mickey.  I don’t remember his story, just that he looked like Georgie and had the same name as one of our cats.  He was really friendly.  Heck, all of them were friendly when they got acclimated.

Our Mickey and Kirby check out the empty carriers.  Becky’s cats were in hiding at this time.  All in the living room, though.  Under end tables, in hidey holes in cat condos…we kept the house quiet while they were here to help reduce the stress on them.  And I made sure that all of the Feliway plugins had plenty of Feliway in them and were operational.  I think they helped a lot.

This is Bubba, the kitten.  He was pretty cute, too.  Becky got him from a daycare place where he was found emaciated and malnourished in a chicken coop.  His siblings were already dead when Becky got him.  She nursed him back to health, but he’s not nearly as big as he should be.  Has a great appetite, though.

I took this mid to late afternoon Sunday.  That’s the sun behind all that smoke.  It was nasty outside.

The sitter called late afternoon.  They were allowed back in to their homes, but warned they may have to leave again, that there were hotspots and it wasn’t 100% safe just yet.  She’d call when she knew more.  The cats would stay here.

Bubba found a nice warm place to cozy up.  Brian’s arm.

We watched the news for hours.  Local channels.  Brian finally learned how to watch local stations using my remote.  It was impossible to not watch.  Brian gets restless when he has to stay inside for too long and around eight Sunday night, he grabbed the keys to the little Bronco and took off for a ride.  He came home, put his boots on (he’d been driving shoeless) and he went into the shop, where he started putting the carriers together that had been there for so long.  I remember the Christmas when we got them.  Sixteen of them, because I wanted to have a carrier for each cat.  We had two other carriers, but we only had eighteen cats at that time.  He spent over an hour washing the parts (the cats had peed on them over the years and they were really gross, but they are plastic, so easily cleaned) and putting the carriers together.  I didn’t understand why he was doing this.  He said “if we have to evacuate I don’t want to have to waste time getting these together, you know?”  I did.  But I didn’t understand the urgency he was showing.  He said “go look at the sky!”



I walked out of the shop, into the back yard and looked to the east.  The sky, I don’t lie, was blood red.  It was night and the sky was red.  It was eerie.  I went out to the front yard and got a better look.  I admit, my heart started to race.  I started to worry about getting all of the cats out.  I started to worry about contacting Becky, should we have to evacuate.  I worried about the ferals, Lonee, Red and Jackie.  Autumn might be hard to get, but she was getable.  As for Lonee, Red and Jackie, Brian would just have to put on a jacket and gloves.  If we couldn’t get them, we’d have to leave the side door open so that with any luck, they’d run out of the house if something were to happen.  It was a waking nightmare.

Brian got the carriers assembled and came back into the house.  He grabbed the keys and started out the door.  He wanted to look again.  I’d been checking sporadically and I told him it might have just been my imagination, but it was looking not so red, like it was dying out.  He wanted to see for himself.  He was gone for quite a while this time, leaving me to stew and worry.  When he got home, the first thing I said was “you’re not leaving this house again tonight!” and he agreed.  He’d gone to the top of Melrose Lane and his brother was up there (as were many others, watching).  His brother had pointed out that there was nothing to burn between our neighborhood and where the fire was.  It wouldn’t travel because there was no fuel for it.  Brian felt a little better.


I took this from the television screen Sunday night.  That’s our ‘hood in the yellow circle.

I got our cats in for the night, which really wasn’t hard to do because I had the cat door set to in only.  I had no idea if the visitor cats were familiar with cat doors and I had no intention of finding out.  Of course, it was a pain in the butt to have to let our cats out when they wanted out, but that’s the price I paid for being safe.

I slept on the sofa while the cats where here.  I stayed with Bubba because I didn’t want anything happening to him (read that bigger cat hurting him).  I didn’t sleep well at all.  The evacuees started exploring during the night and Oliver came out of the bedroom.  He had no recoginition of his former housemates and was letting them know, in no uncertain terms, that they were intruding on his territory.  I let him know, in no uncertain terms, that his growling was intruding on my pathetic attempt at sleep.  That didn’t faze him, but the water bottle certainly did.  He scampered back into the bedroom, where he spent the rest of the night.

Monday morning, the nightmare continued.  My world was orange.  My world stunk.


The Monday morning sky

Brian holding Opie and Richie in the back yard Monday morning

Brian’s truck (taken mid-morning)

This brought tears to my eyes.  Seeing this hawk in the tree, hearing its calls, just tore me apart.  It brought home all of the devastation.  It’s one thing to read it in the paper or see it on a television screen, but this was real.  This sad hawk in the tree against a fire orange sky brought it home.



Investigators aren’t certain hunter set Cedar fire

By Mark Arner and Marisa Taylor


October 27, 2003

The U.S. Forest Service is trying to determine whether a hunter’s signal fire ignited the largest wildfire in San Diego County history.

Sergio Martinez, 33, of West Covina was released after being given a misdemeanor citation for setting an unauthorized fire in Cleveland National Forest on Saturday, the same day the Cedar wildfire began. The investigation remains incomplete because flames are blocking access to the site.

Martinez was questioned about the fire after he was rescued by helicopter from rugged terrain south of Julian about 6:20 p.m. Saturday.

Michelle Sarubbi, the Forest Service officer who cited Martinez, refused to comment on whether he faces more charges.

“In order to do a thorough and exact fire investigation, you have to rule out everything that didn’t start the fire to find out what did start the fire,” she said. “We can’t jump to conclusions.”

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office would not confirm that Martinez was being investigated or answer questions about whether criminal charges might be filed. She would say only that someone had been questioned and released in the investigation.

Attempts to reach Martinez for comment were unsuccessful.

Saturday, authorities began the search for Martinez after a friend who was hunting with him called for help.

According to sheriff’s Deputy Dave Weldon, who piloted the rescue flight, the two men were deer hunting when Martinez wandered off. After 11 hours without food or water, Weldon said, Martinez apparently started a small fire to signal for help.

Weldon spotted smoke and then a fire covering about 50 square yards of scrub brush. He said Martinez was waving from the top of a small rocky mountain, just upwind from the blaze. The mountain was about a mile south of Eagle Peak Road and a few miles east of San Diego Country Estates.

Weldon said Martinez was delirious and couldn’t walk, so Weldon and his partner, Deputy Rocky Laws, dragged and carried him back to the aircraft.

While lifting Martinez into the helicopter, Weldon said, Laws asked Martinez if he had started the fire.

“He said, ‘No . . . I’m sorry. I’m sorry about all of this,’” Weldon said. “He was basically delirious.”

“I asked him what he started it with, and he wouldn’t comment,” Weldon added. “He just remained quiet.”

“Then he said: ‘I thought I was going to die out there. Thanks for saving my life.’”

Martinez was treated for dehydration.

Sheriff Bill Kolender reported early Monday that federal officials had arrested someone for starting the fire and said the man was in custody. Later in the day, a spokesman for Kolender said the man had been “cited and released” and had not been arrested.

Don’t get me started on sport hunting.  I don’t understand the enjoyment of killing something.  I don’t understand how one can get pleasure from taking aim at one of God’s beautiful creatures with the intention of ending its life.  I don’t understand it. I don’t grok it.  I never will.

I hope this hunter is happy.  I’d love to see every single one of the animals who lost its life in this fire sent to the hunter and laid on his doorstep.  I’d love for him to have to look into the eyes of the left behind loved ones of the people who died in this horrendous fire.  I wonder how he’s feeling right now.  I hope he never goes hunting again.  He’s killed plenty through his actions.

There was a picture of a buck in the paper last week.  A burned buck.  Laying on his side, all grey.  And there as a doe not far from him.  A dead doe, caught in mid jump.  Gah.  Sport hunting.  Puke.


Sweet little Bubba, doesn’t have a care in the world.  Just sleep, eat and play.  And that’s how it should be for a kitten.  No worries.

More of baby Bubba

The sun, mid morning on Monday, October 27, 2003

I took this Monday morning
And now, more pictures of the visitors…..

Roxy made herself quite at home.  I found her all over the house.

Potter (named after “Harry Potter”) again. Such a sweet cat.

In this picture, you can see the previously shaved area of his side where his leg was removed.  He loved climbing the cat trees and running up and down the floor to ceiling post and cat tree.  He really had a good time here, I think.

Mickey and Possom

Mickey was a talker.  He’d talk your ear off if you let him.

Here are some images from the newspaper.  The first one was an entire page of the paper, showing all of the fires.  The second one has a red star in the approximate area of our house.  The fire came within two miles of us.



This is Wally.  His previous owner was a crackhead.  He was brought to the vet after having his head hit against the wall.  He was bleeding from his nose and mouth.  Becky fell in love with him and wanted to adopt him right away, but he had to be kept at the shelter as “evidence”.  She had gone looking for a new cat to adopt (one of theirs had gotten out and disappeared) and he was available!&nbsnbsp; She was very happy that she was there at the right time.  His eye runs, it always will from the damage he had sustained.  Wally was the most reticent of all of the visiting cats, although towards the end of their stay here, he was more visible.  He even let us pet him.

Possom; she has a very striking coat, kind of reminds me of a tortie Sphinx

Sagwa just made himself at home.

Roxy claimed Brian’s chair as her own.

Potter playing with a feather wand; you can see some litter at the right of the picture.  I thought that giving the cats their own litterbox would help them assimilate more quickly…it did.

Possom curled up on the sofa

Becky called Wednesday afternoon, would I be around?  It was time to come get her kitties.  She was here within a half hour of calling.  I have to admit, I was sorry to see them go.  On the one hand, I knew our cats would be glad to get their house back.  But it was interesting to see how quickly Becky’s cats became used to our house.  And even Oliver had backed off of his hissing and spitting.  When Becky came over, I told her “oh, I didn’t have a chance to tell you, but we got a new kitten and can you believe it?  He looks exactly like Bubba.  Unfortunately, we can’t find Bubba anywhere.  Let me show you our new kitten, his name is ‘Spike’.”  And I pointed at the sofa where Bubba was just waking up.  Katelynn asked me where was our new kitten and I pointed at Bubba.  “Right there, see? That’s Spike!”  She looked confused.  *lol*  Her mom let her know I was just teasing, that we didn’t have a new kitten at all.

And she did find the two outdoor cats. And she brought them in. They weren’t happy about it, but they’ll get used to it.  She’s not going to take a chance again.  She still didn’t know where her horse was.

I took this Friday morning of the hawks.  They look much better.  There were three of them hanging around.  It felt good to see them against a blue sky.

Taken this morning….we’ve had a little rain and the temperatures have dropped dramatically; the air smells good again.

So, the fires are almost out, the skies are blue with clouds.  It’s officially autumn, I guess.  Halloween is over and it’s time to get back to some sort of routine.  And God knows I’m ready for that.

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lisaviolet is sixty something, married with no kids, takes care of lots of cats, likes taking photographs, loves Southern California weather and spends altogether too much time avoiding her responsibilities.

In her spare time, she makes pretty things to sell in her store.

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